The days of casting a vote in Rhode Island with a single stroke of a pen appear to be headed to an end — but one that will come later than originally anticipated. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10 to 1 to do away with single-party voting, but not until 2015. If the measure passes the full Senate, it will have to go back to the House, which voted unanimously May 1 to eliminate single-party voting, effective immediately. The reason some committee members gave for the one-year delay: state officials need more time to educate voters who might be confused by the change.
Opponents of single-party voting, also referred to as the “master lever,” have been trying for decades to end the practice. But for years, the measure never made it out of either a House or Senate committee.
“I’m glad we’re going in the right direction even if we’re going to have to wait just one more year,” said Sen. Dawson Hodgson, R-North Kingstown, one of the sponsors of the bill.
Many of the more than a dozen members of the public who spoke in support of eliminating the practice said grasping the concept of voting for individual candidates should not require additional time.